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Saturday, March 27, 2010

Toys and Training (Part 1 of 2)

Believe it or not, but toys can definitely impact your training experience...

We all love playing tug-of-war with our doggies. They pull and growl and we pull back and laugh. This can go on for a pretty long time. Sometimes they get the tug-of-war toy and run around the room while we chase them, trying to grab the other end. Sometimes we end up with the tug-of-war toy and then normally make high pitched sounds, encouraging them to jump and grab the toy again. Wow, isn't that a lot of fun!

Do you ever wonder why your dog jumps, barks, and nips at people? Our dogs learn through repetition. We are constantly playing a game with them that requires actions of biting, jumping, and barking. Oops!

Also, guess who normally ends up with the tug-of-war toy at the end of the game? Our doggie normally ends up with the toy and takes it of to his corner or into the other room. This is because we are now off to other of our "human activities" like answering the phone, getting the door, sitting down to the computer, etc. In our dog's mind, they have "won the game" because they ended up with the toy.

So what does all this tell us?
  1. From our dog's perspective, playing tug-of-war enforces that he is the leader and he can do whatever he wants. Why not? He is the leader and we have told him so.
  2. Jumping, nipping, barking, and other "bad habits" are enforced by playing tug-of-war because we are constantly condoning such actions.
Bottom line, do not play tug-of-war with your dog. It is fine if your dogs play tug-of-war between each other, just not with you.

For more information, please contact The Best Dog Trainers in South Florida.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

When Training, Always Keep it Slow

We Americans always like things fast. We love fast food. We always want to be in the fast lane. We read the Cliff Notes and not the Book.... It doesn't work that way with our best friends...

One of the biggest reasons that we have problems training our dogs is that we are impatient and want the training to be fast. Dogs learn through repetition and consistency. Neither of these two words connote "fast".

The best way to train is to take "baby steps". If our dog is having a hard time sitting, let's first make sure that he can stand next to us and look at us. If he can't do that, he won't be able to sit. If our dog is misbehaving while in a room full of people, let's first make sure that he might be in the room with just ourselves.

The secret to this process is to break down our training exercise into many "little goals". Each goal is obtainable and is required before we move on to the next "little goal". You will now be able to succeed because you have forced yourself to take "baby steps".

This will allow you to be consistent and succeed. Your dog will feel better because he will have the ability to obey you, you will gain much needed confidence. The relationship between you and your dog will be a happy, learning, and loving experience.

For more information, please contact The Best Dog Trainers in South Florida.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Walking in a Crowd

We always think it is great when we walk our dog around the block, but what happens when we take our best friend to a crowded place, full of people and other things?

We must always be aware of our surroundings and consider if our puppy is comfortable. If he is not, we run the risk of our guy barking, jumping, lunging, and even biting. These are all actions that we definitely don't want in public and actions that can easily be avoided. Follow these simple steps to assure a great time with your pup while in a crowded, public area:

  • Always be aware of your pup's body language. If you see excessive focus on other animals or people, their tail tucked under their body, or low growling, you are about to experience an unwanted incident.
  • Turn around and go towards the nearest exit with the minimal number of people and animals. Keep your dog's focus on you and walk briskly.
  • As soon as you get outside, stop and allow your dog to regain focus on you. If the crowd will be thinning soon, you might wait in a quiet area and then proceed again when there are less distractions. If not, you may consider leaving for the day.
  • Although this may seem like you are avoiding the issue, you are really showing that you are looking after your pup's safety in the best way that they currently understand and accept.
Now, what can we do to help fix the problem? You must create life experiences where your doggie becomes comfortable and accustomed to a place with a good amount of hustle and bustle. We will take baby steps here:
  • Take your dog to a Mall (or place that normally has a good amount of people) when there are very few people and sit on the perimeter of the area. Bring toys and even treats to keep him entertained and focused on you.
  • Start to come at times when there are more people and repeat the above process. If your pup becomes agitated, slow the process down and start to come at less crowded times.
  • Once your pup appears content and calm with the area, start coming at low traffic times and walk in the area. Still keep a little distance between you and the other people/dogs.
  • As your doggie shows a proper comfort level, come at times of higher traffic and repeat above. As soon as you see fear, anxiety, or aggression, slow the process down and subtract a portion of the people.dogs.
  • Follow this process and you will have a doggie that is great in crowds.
We hope you find this information useful. For more information, please contact The Best Dog Trainers in South Florida.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Rover and my Mocha Latte

Many of us would love to take our "best friends" to Starbucks or Panera Bread for a nice coffee, but it just doesn't work. It doesn't have to be that way...

Many times, we make assumptions regarding our dog's "happy place". Just like our mothers did with us when we were young, we must socialize our dogs to situations in which they will normally be placed. Today, I want to talk about having a coffee, iced tea, or whatever at a public cafe. Here is what you do.

  1. First, take your dog to the cafe when it is closed. Just sit outside and drink a coffee that you might have brought from home. Be sure to have something to entertain your dog.
  2. After doing this several times, now come back when the cafe is open, but during a slow time. Your doggie will now experience a few people. Be sure to watch your dog's body language and to keep his focus on you.
  3. When your dog is comfortable in this situation, come back when there is a normal amount of people in the establishment. Never sit in the main entrance, but always off to the side. Continue to watch your dog's body language and to keep his focus on you.
The most important item to remember with this exercise is to keep it slow and to keep your actions consistent. If, for any reason, your dog becomes too agitated on any visit, get up and walk down the block.

Your Bark Buster Behavioral Therapist can provide you with more details regarding this process and can even lend assistance, if necessary.  For more information, please contact The Best Dog Trainers in South Florida.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Starting your Walkies off Right

For many of us, walking is a cross between tug of war and the 100 yard dash. It doesn't have to be that way...

I would like to give you one, very simple tip to help your "walkies" be enjoyable. Here's the secret, start out calm.

For many of us, our dogs start to go crazy when they even see the leash. We wrestle with them to get it on and then they race to the door. We chase after them to get the leash and when we open the door, they bolt out, pulling us along for the show.

No wonder our "walkies" is crazy! As I mentioned earlier, let's start out on a calm note.
  • If your dog goes crazy when they see the leash, put it away and bring it out again in five minutes. Repeat this until you can easily place the leash on him.
  • Make sure that your dog sits quietly at the front door as you open it. You must go out first and then invite him.
  • Have your dog sit on the front porch until you are ready to walk. Then proceed calmly.
I assure you that if you follow these hints, you will have a great "walkies experience" with your pooch.

For more information, please contact The Best Dog Trainers in South Florida.